Tallboy Linen Cabinet Part 1

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As all-American as jazz music, the traditional styling of this hefty linen cabinet is a meld of the influences of Gustav Stickley, the Arts & Crafts movement, and Greene & Greene styling.

Morgans are the only truly American breed of horse. 

Jazz, they say, is an original American art form. 

So, what of our heritage in furniture – is there a native style? Can we look at a piece of Colonial or Federal furniture and say that it defines us?

The truth is that every strain of American furniture design began somewhere else, just like most of the people. Our Colonial furniture was born in the hills of Yorkshire England, not the valleys of Vermont. Shaker furniture has its roots in Manchester England, whence came Mother Ann Lee, founder of the order, in 1774. And that truly American art form, Gustav Stickley’s familiar Mission style, is a meld of Spanish hacienda influences and an Arts & Crafts tradition born in Britain of Medieval parentage.

The linen cabinet in this project is as American as it can possibly be. The scale and proportions are reminiscent of tall cabinets found throughout the earlier Shaker colonies in New England. The construction methods and overall aspect of this piece, however, are more in keeping with Stickley’s methodology. He favored quartersawn white oak as the primary species, and his influence can be seen in the flat frame-and-panel doors, the gentle curves of the lower rails and the generous use of mortise-and-tenon joinery.

Another American Arts & Crafts influence, California’s Greene Brothers, supplied the inspiration for the accents – ebonized plugs and art-glass door panels.

Despite its size, this is not a particularly difficult project to build. It requires a degree of patience, access to a thickness planer and some experience with joinery. It’s not a beginner’s project, but anybody familiar with casework should have no problem completing it.

There are, however, a very large number of individual parts that go into this piece. For that reason, I’ve numbered each component – or set of identical components, such as stiles and rails – for easier reference in the construction process.

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